We formed a band, including three women who’d never done anything like that before, and made an impact very quickly. Many of our ideas are way off what most people do, so let’s try and find out why it worked. If you’re someone who would like to have a band, here’s an alternative way of doing things and thinking about it, particularly if you’re a woman or someone who wouldn’t be expected to get up on stage.
“I can’t find anyone else”
Tell everyone about the idea. “I’m looking for someone who wants to learn bass” can be more interesting than just looking for a bass player.
“We never seem to get started”
Only have one talking meeting with your new band mates at the start. Don’t waste six months in the pub discussing the band name or chatting fantasies, just get on with it.
“They’re not as committed as me”
Agree how much time you want to devote to the band – a two hour rehearsal on a set day every week is ideal. If it’s less than once a fortnight, or it depends on people’s changing shifts or commitments, it’s much harder. But those who have more time can think about song ideas and work on their own.
“I don’t have a guitar”
There are always musicians who have a lot of equipment. If you meet any of these, don’t ask them to be in your band. Ask them whether they’d lend their 5th best guitar to a beginner who will take good care of it.
“I can’t afford £600 for a bass guitar”
If you can’t borrow anything, see if you can buy anything second-hand. Often there’s guitars and basses for £30-50. They’re not the best, but that doesn’t matter at the start. Make sure that you see someone playing it through an amplifier though, to know that the electrics work. Buy a good guitar lead if you can afford one.
“We don’t have a drummer or a drum kit”
If someone will agree to have a go, you can hire a rehearsal room with a complete drum kit including cymbals and pedals. All you need are drumsticks (about £4). Alternatively, hit carboard boxes to start with.
“We don’t have anywhere to play”
You can play quietly in people’s houses, or find a community centre or someone’s warehouse etc if you have all the gear. But focus and progress tends to be better when you’re paying by the hour in a proper rehearsal room. There should be a few within reach of most people if you search online. Many are run by enthusiasts, who should be delighted to help a bunch of beginners so try them out. If not, there’s a chain of unstaffed rehearsal rooms called Pirate Studios, where you book online and get a keycode to get in. The disadvantage is that help is on the phone, not in person. Pirate charges £12 per hour for a room on Saturday morning with the full drum kit; we found that other local studios, like Stayfree in Leicester have a similar size room for £9.50, plus they have someone to help you, snack and drinks machines and a mini shop for musical essentials.
“We don’t know what to do to get started”
Don’t bother trying to learn songs by famous bands. You’ll only get frustrated because it takes so long to get every player in the band sounding like the original. Start really simple with what the least experienced player in the band can do. Always count what you’re doing and agree how long each bit goes on for – 8 beats in a riff maybe and then repeat that 4 times and then a drum roll. That could be just playing a single chord or bass note like this EEEEEEEE, EEEEEEEE, EEEEEEEE, EEEEEEEE <drumroll>. By starting really simply, you can focus on the band interaction to play together, as a group, with communication, rather than the typical 3-4 musicians all playing marvellous independent things at the same time.
“We don’t know how to progress”
Decide whether you are just playing for fun in the rehearsal room. This is a totally fine kind of thing to do. But if you want to play any gigs, then you need to think of your audience and why they might like watching your band. Secretly many people dread having to go out to see their friend’s band, because it’s not a lot of fun, and it’s not really fair to expect people you know to subsidise your hobby out of loyalty. Inexperienced, earnest musicians are often so focussed on ‘getting their bit right’ that it’s a real chore to watch the ‘musicians all playing marvellous independent things at the same time’ kind of thing, when you’re not a regular gig-goer.
“We’re not ready to play a gig yet”
You should play a short gig or support slot as soon as you can. The fact that you’re brand new endears you to audiences and honestly, they would rather see a half-arsed band having a go, making mistakes, being humorous and engaging with everyone than a note-perfect replication of Bring Me The Horizon or some other men’s study band. And that is the theory that has worked well for The Verinos.
Thanks for reading. We’re thinking of starting some YouTube content about getting started in a band – at a very basic level – learning your instrument by playing in a band from scratch! Comment below if you’d be interested to see this!